Counterfeiting is a big business. Nearly $509 billion of fake and pirated products were sold internationally in 2016. In that year, the latest for which data was available, counterfeit goods made up 3.3% of international trade, up from 2.5% three years earlier, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
That figure, which does not include domestic trade in fakes, not only means companies are losing revenue and consumers are not getting their money's worth; counterfeiting also helps fund organized crime. It exploits low-wage laborers. Because it skirts safety regulations, makers of counterfeits could use toxic materials or produce unsafe products.